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Edvard Graham Lewis
All Over/All Under David Stubbs , July 11th, 2014 18:27

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Wire fans will be aware of Graham Lewis' work outside of the group, including the series of Dome albums in the early 1980s (with Bruce Gilbert) and, later that decade, his solo project He Said. On these recordings, his distinctive voice within the group, bass in a wider sense to Colin Newman's treble, came into its own. He was always unabashedly portentous and solemn (one of the few people to use the word "albeit" in a pop song, on 'I Should Have Known Better', the opener to Wire's 154), vauntingly ambitious, unafraid of exploring the dark areas that lay beyond the periphery of post-punk, but always retaining a twinkle in his eye which rebuffed reflexive, lumpen accusations of "pretentiousness" or "artiness" even as he invited them - you almost felt he relished such brickbats.

Wire have continued to motor on and off throughout the late with and early 21st century but Lewis, now based in Sweden, has continued to make music, taking advantage of new technologies unavailable to him when he made his first ambient/industrial investigations some 35 years ago, when such stuff was far less commonplace. These two excellent albums comprise recordings made in Uppsala, Sweden, between 2003 and 2013 and show that he has lost none of his form, edge, nerve, or feel for what's still out there waiting to be done. 

All Over is more song-based, featuring contributions from among others Andreas Karperyd (electronics) on the brief but brilliantly scene-setting opener 'Approaching Wheels', from Howardamb on 'Straight Into The Corner', from Linda Dahl who sings on 'Quick Skin' and from P.T. Kirk (aka Akatombo), a kindred spirit whose own recent releases, including the Fossil Aerosol Mining Project are urgently worthy of your attention. 'Prism Buzzard', to which Kirk contributes, is a highlight of the album, somehow reconciling the conjunction of words in its title with a pecking, enigmatic drone, which gives way to a sudden monsoon of industrial rhythm. 'The Start Of Next Week', with its arching, elegant techno progression and deadpan, cryptic lyric overlaid with peals of guitar is another highlight, the product of Lewis' singular sensibility and unique pedigree. There are clever tears in the brilliantly layered mass of fabric, in which freshly minted electronica interweaves with the stylings of avant-garde yore - the "What the fuck?" exclamation of 'Passport To International Travel', for instance. 

All Under comprises four pieces, including two versions of the album title, as film score and installation loop, designed to accompany footage from Gunilla Leander's short 2003 film of the same name, the installation featuring combinations of nude men and women fighting and wrestling underwater. As sound events in their own right, they swim and mutate on the outer fringes beyond extreme electronica, not so many light years away from the likes of Xenakis and Tod Dockstader. Still better, however, is 'The Eel Wheeled', in which Lewis intones one of his own somewhat noirish, Florida-based short stories, set to music, faintly reminiscent of 'The Other Window' on 154. It's a piece that creates its own, humid, active micro-climate, a music that, as elsewhere on these albums, sets out on the path of most sonic resistance to the forward thrust of the narrative, making for a more complex and richly rewarding experience.

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smallchurch
Jul 11, 2014 12:32pm

Two very, very fine albums. Great review.

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Gerald McBoing-Boing
Jul 12, 2014 1:14am

Up there with the best of his collaborations with Bruce Gilbert. "No Show Godot" on All Under is a particularly wonderful highlight, moving from ambient drone to Wire-esque and back. Both albums feel like a mesh of early Cabaret Voltaire meshed with Wife's experiment side.

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Gerald McBoing-Boing
Jul 12, 2014 1:16am

In reply to Gerald McBoing-Boing:

... Wire's experimental side. Damned autocorrect...

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Pookah McGillicuddy
Jul 14, 2014 4:47am

I've never been put off by Gilbert's portentousness but rarely is he THAT interest a composer either. I know, I know, 'electronic' sods don't have to be, the drugs fill in the rest, man, but these records are to Xenakis like kazoo is to Coltrane. Let's move on, shall we?

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Ling Ting Tong
Apr 14, 2015 4:10pm

Revisiting these LPs in anticipation of the new Wire album and I want to reiterate... they're are both fookin' excellent! I enjoy all of Graham's solo projects but these might be most gripping since Hox?

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